By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
The Democratic Senate hopefuls for District 42 face an uphill fight both in their primary and general elections, as their newly redrawn district extends far beyond its original Towson and Pikesville borders and into Republican turf.
The district has expanded through northern Baltimore County, almost to the Pennsylvania line, adding rural nooks and farmland, a fact challenger Connie DeJuliis has accepted.
DeJuliis, a former one-term delegate who served in the early ‘90s, is running against long-time incumbent Sen. Jim Brochin. The first scheduled debate together was a forum sponsored by the Central Baltimore County Democratic Club Tuesday, though Brochin, an insurance broker on the side, was out-of-state on job training, his staff said. His staff added that he was disappointed he could not attend.
As his surrogate, Brochin sent Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat whose political views lean far more to the left than his own. Brochin has touted himself as an independent Democrat in his three terms in the Senate. His moderate stance on certain issues has annoyed Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has endorsed DeJuliis.
“Is he as progressive as me?,” Raskin said. “No, but I don’t think anyone is as progressive as me. I know I could not get elected in the newly redrawn district … but I think Sen. Brochin could hold the seat for us.”
DeJuliis criticizes incumbent Brochin for missing forum
DeJuliis said she was “put off” by the fact Raskin represented Brochin at the forum, especially when Raskin would lead with how he voted on an issue, then state Brochin’s opinion — Raskin touted the fact he supported same-sex marriage straightaway, then added Brochin took some time to decide. Raskin was a key figure and the floor leader in passage of the DREAM Act, a measure granting in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Brochin voted against it.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sen. Raskin,” DeJuliis said during the forum. “But it’s extraordinarily difficult to engage in this exchange when I’m hearing his position as opposed to hearing Sen. Brochin’s.”
DeJuliis criticized Brochin for not immediately supporting same-sex marriage, saying she felt those types of social issues were black or white, you either support them or you don’t. That’s the message she wants to send to voters, she said, as voters respect someone who firmly stands their ground, and she believes that’s the message that will get her elected.
“People want the same thing no matter who they are,” she said, referring to District 42, split by the party line.
“I look forward to opportunities to having conversations with Sen. Brochin so that he can speak for himself,” DeJuliis said.
In addition to garnering the support of O’Malley, DeJuliis also gained an endorsement from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. A Dundalk resident, she once made a congressional run against then U.S. Rep. Bob Ehrlich in 1996.
Brochin is the self-fashioned Senate maverick, an independent voter, and he has never lost an election.
A candidate for the House of Delegates in District 42B, Robert Leonard, an attorney and instructor at Baltimore County Community College said he calculated a higher number of Democrats in District 42 compared to Republicans.
Leonard said with Brochin’s name recognition, the district is winnable for Brochin and himself.
“I’m not popping open the champagne yet though,” he said.
Zirkin, Morhaim, delegate candidates also addressed the club
The sole Senate candidate for District 11, Sen. Robert Zirkin, running entirely unopposed in the primary and general election, also addressed the club, along with the six candidates for the District 11 House of Delegates seats.
Two incumbents, Del. Dan Morhaim, House deputy majority leader, and Del. Dana Stein have banded with Zirkin. The other four, Don Engel, Shelly Hettleman, Alex Leikus and Ted Levin are vying for the seat of Del. Jon Cardin, a candidate for Attorney General.
Hettleman in particular has garnered support from top federal representatives — her former bosses Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Barbara Mikulski have both endorsed her. Hettleman served as Cardin’s campaign manager and staff on an early Mikulski campaign.
Her January campaign finance report showed she had raised $123,000, more than most delegate candidates in the state.
All of the delegate contenders were similar in their views, only differing in their solutions and their support of physician-assisted suicide. Stein and Levin were the sole opposition of assisted suicide. That issue was recently brought to the forefront by gubernatorial candidate Del. Heather Mizeur, who strongly supports its full legalization.